Cause for WWI hero Fr Willie Doyle’s canonisation opened

Cause for WWI hero Fr Willie Doyle’s canonisation opened Fr Willie Doyle (portrayed by Brian Milligan) distributes Communion to soldiers on the battlefield in EWTN’s documentary, Bravery Under Fire.

Fr Willie Doyle SJ is one step closer to sainthood after Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan opened October 25 the canonisation cause of the Irish World War One chaplain serving in the British army.

Servant of God Willie Doyle was born in Dalkey, Co. Dublin in 1873, and entered the Jesuits in Rahan, Tullabeg, Co. Offaly in the Diocese of Meath in 1891.

He served as chaplain in the 16th Irish Division of the British Army, and was killed by a shell on Frezenberg Ridge in Belgium during the Battle of Passchendaele August 16, 1917 as he was trying to save two Anglican soldiers.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Patrick Kenny of the Father Willie Doyle Association said that there’s a “huge devotion” to Fr Willie Doyle globally and that that devotion “never went away”.


“Now we view him as a sign of reconciliation and a sign of unity,” Mr Kenny said, adding that he’s a “role model and intercessor” for the modern age due to his struggles for a time with mental health following a breakdown.

“The opening of Fr Willie’s cause is a response to the wishes of many people, over many decades, who have wanted to see him recognised as a saint in the Catholic Church,” Mr Kenny said, thanking Bishop Deenihan for accepting the formal petition to open Fr Willie’s canonisation process.

“His heroism during the war, as well as the holiness of his life in general, led to an outpouring of devotion to him in the years after his death. By the early 1930’s over 50,000 letters testifying to devotion to him were received, over 6,000 of which alleged favours and healings through his intercession.”

Appointed as diocesan postulator for the cause, Fr John Hogan of the Diocese of Meath said that he’s “privileged” to act as postulator for Fr Doyle’s cause and that he looks forward to helping to make him a “new saint for the Jesuits and a new saint for Ireland”.

Read Jason Osborne’s full featured article on the life of Fr Willie Doyle SJ here.